Thursday, February 19, 2009

Interviews Attire Ins and Outs

Miss America is changing; if you weren't aware of that, you might want to find a new hobby! I'm bringing this up again because I've been asked recently about interview attire by a few different people. It's a tricky topic, but here are my opinions, complete with photo examples.

The new trend is to wear fashion forward, realistic outfits, as opposed to stiff, stuffy, matchy-matchy skirt suits. I think my old interview suits are beautiful, but I could never wear them for a real job interview or in a professional office environment - one is bright green silk and the other is lined with sparkling white fringe! Like a bridesmaid dress, I told myself I could wear them again, but I can not; they scream "PAGEANT" and I am jealous of current contestants who can now purchase interview outfits that also fit in other parts of their life.

I'm not saying skirt and pant suits are completely "out," rather, they should be more contemporary and dresses and separates are also "in." Case in point, rumor has it the new Miss America, Katie Stam's interview attire was the sleeveless tan dress [left] that she wore on her first couple media appearances. CLICK HERE to see the videos.

I can't find a picture of what Miss Virginia, Tara Wheeler wore at Miss America, but I think the dress she wore for her state interview [below left] was absolute perfection! Her predecessor, Hannah Keifer was a Top 5 finalist at Miss America and wore the fantastic red dress [below right] for her national interview.

Miss Texas, Rebecca Robinson, also wore a trendier outfit for her Miss America interview. I think the execution was a train wreck and she didn't make the Top 15, but I liked the idea of it...

I know the quality of the picture is poor, but rumor has it Miss Ohio, Karissa Martin, wore this purple wrap dress for her Miss America interview.

Knowing what the judges are going for in interview is always hard because unlike gown or swimsuit, interview pictures aren't easy to come by. However, here in Ohio I have evidence of at least two titleholder who had an updated look in the interview room.

Right: Miss Lake Festival, Ellen Bryan, stands out in her chic grey dress, while the other contestants' attire seems beyond their years.

Left: Ashleigh Lemon's silky silver halter and black pencil skirt received mixed reviews from fans, but it didn't keep her from being crowned Miss Maple City!

Right: Jacki Jerlecki hasn't won a title yet, but she's been a First Runner-up a few times and I think her red interview dress is wonderful.

We've seen trendier outfits on the national and local level, however the new Miss America style has yet to make it to the end in Mansfield . I really hope that changes this June. Below are Miss Ohio Top 5 pictures from the past few years; while these lovely ladies are in beautiful suits, the fact is these pictures now represent what not to wear for interview and Heidi Klum would say they're out:

2008 Miss Ohio Top 5: Kasey Wilson, Erica Gelhaus, Karissa Martin, Becky Minger and Jenna Wilson

2007 Miss Ohio Top 5: Karissa Martin, Roberta Camp, Kasey Wilson, Nanciann Strosnider and Erica Gelhaus

2006 Miss Ohio Top 5: Melanie Murphy, Becky Minger, Lelsie Ondrey, Allie Krucek and Elyse Healey

Do you need more examples? Around the same time I was contacted by some women here in Ohio, fans on the national message board were also discussing new looks for interview. Someone posted the following images of outfits they liked for interview from Neiman Marcus; if you care, I've written my opinions of these outfits: I love the entire top row, except the green dress; note, the black top on the right might be too low cut for busty women. On the bottom row, I like the first three on the left; the blue dress is too casual, I hate the librarian bow on the teal dress and the fuchsia one is an evening look.

I think wearing pants is a great option, especially if that's more your personality. However, I only like the two outfits on the right. The green top with brown pants isn't really a finished look for me and the other two are too casual.

Of the looks above, I really like the brown and purple dresses and pinkish outfit. I also like the grey skirt, but the white top bugs me; I don't like the black and grey outfit at all and the black and pink is too much of a dressy/evening look.

If you do prefer the traditional route with a jacket, there are contemporary options that don't look like you're playing dress up in Queen Elizabeth's closet! I like Guess, Express, Banana Republic, Victoria Secret (online), BCBG and Bebe.

Cache is also a popular store among pageant women, especially for opening number and casual wear type looks, but I always discourage women from shopping there because someone else will surely have the same thing!

I fear this blog post maybe more confusing than helpful, because now contestants options for interview attire is wide open! Women can show their personality with interview wardrobe that can actually be worn again. That being said, there are still some standards of appropriateness. One of the challenges on the recent Miss America reality show gave the Miss States $100 and ninety minutes to find new interview outfits in a mall. Afterward some women were criticized for picking garments that were too dressy; I believe it was Miss Oklahoma who selected a black lace cocktail dress that was too much of an evening look. The reality show judges also disapproved of Miss North Dakota's dress for being too tight and short for interview. Fans on the message board have also cautioned against showing cleavage. Some feel ruffles and sleeveless garments are inappropriate, but that's a matter of opinion, which our current Miss America obviously doesn't agree with!

As with any wardrobe piece, what you wear for interview should convey your personality and the cut and color should flatter you. Shoes and jewelry can now be fashion forward, meaning boring taupe shoes and conservative pearls are no longer required, but these components should just compliment and not distract. I think a contestant should think about the wide range of job requirements for the title of Miss ____ and wear what she feel most comfortable in.

Click here and here for previous posts touching on this topic.

Agree with me? Disagree? Vote in the poll and leave comments!


  1. I love getting comments, but not when they don’t make any sense… This morning I received an extremely long diatribe about our country’s poor economic stat and politics; at least that’s what I gathered as I began to skim it before realizing it went on for days. Some of the paragraphs were broken by dates, which makes me wonder if it was copied from a blog or something.

    Anyway, I don’t think it’s spam, because that usually comes with a link they want you to click; this was posted anonymously with no links or signature.

    I’m not publishing it because it has nothing to do with this entry or this blog, but I would love to hear why someone felt the need to leave it as a comment.


  2. Abby!

    I love your blog! I know most of your blogging is opinion but I really appreciate you taking the time to update us on current pageant trends! You really should consi=der becoming an ED or SD! The pageant world needs you :)!

    Jen Ciccone


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